1 May 2024

Review: The Fall Guy

From At The Movies, 7:00 pm on 1 May 2024

Back in the bad old days of American network TV, primetime was occupied by routine, escapist fare provided by hucksters like Quinn Martin, Aaron Spelling and Glen A Larsen. 

Larsen alone was responsible for Magnum PI, Knight Rider, Buck Rogers and the eminently forgettable Fall Guy.

The Fall Guy featured Lee Majors as a stuntman. With only a limited number of plots available for someone being hit and falling off things on a film set, he also doubled as a bounty hunter on the side. 

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Photo: Supplied

Astonishingly for such a thin premise, the TV series lasted several years. Hence the remake, we assume.

In fact, the back-story behind this Fall Guy is more interesting than the film itself. It’s the passion project of stuntman-turned-director David Leitch, whose career was launched by stunt-heavy hit movies such as John Wick, Atomic Blonde and Bullet Train. 

And it certainly lucked out with its two stars Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt.

Gosling has received all the star-making publicity –  Barbie, La La Land, Blade Runner 2049. 

But Blunt’s no slouch either. For many, she was the best thing in Oppenheimer, doing the same scene-stealing trick she pulled off in The Devil Wears Prada and Edge of Tomorrow.

And throw in another long-time-coming, overnight success, Ted Lasso’s Hannah Waddingham as a dodgy film producer, and The Fall Guy’s already off to a flying start.  

So long as the script doesn’t get in the way, what can possibly go wrong?

Now, people familiar with At The Movies will probably expect me to now point out that everything does in fact go wrong with The Fall Guy.  

That it doesn’t is entirely due to the charm, the chops and the sheer charisma of the two stars. 

We meet stuntman Colt Seavers –Gosling - happily taking the blows for superstar Tom Ryder, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Taylor-Johnson is currently tipped to be the next James Bond. Not on the strength of The Fall Guy, it has to be said. He barely registers at all.

Anyway, stuntman Colt is madly in love with director Jody, played by Blunt.

Then something terrible happens. A stunt goes wrong, Colt’s laid out for months, during which time he cuts himself off from Jody. 

She’s understandably miffed, and more so when he comes out of retirement for her new movie.

Turns out Colt thought Jody had hired him, with a view to getting back together.  

This is news to Jody, and the two start bickering in an cute, flirty way. And when two of the most attractive people on the planet start flirting like this, it’s easy to lose track of the plot - whatever it is.

The plot seems to involve the movie’s star Tom Ryder going missing, and Colt being brought in by producer Hannah Waddingham to find him.   

And before you can say “this makes no sense at all”, we’re off on a merry romp, heavily punctuated by movie in-jokes and endless stunt-man references.

There’s nothing Hollywood movie-makers like making more than movies about the making of movies.  Writer Drew Pearce is particularly prone to this sort of thing – remember the fiercely meta Iron Man 3?  

But the too-clever-by-half script ended up not mattering too much.

While writer Pearce tossed off Hollywood zingers, and director Leitch constructed ever more elaborate stunts, all audiences cared for were the scenes between Gosling and Blunt, many of which seemed to be ad-libbed on the spot.

The Fall Guy may look spectacular – and if you’re a fan of stunt-work, this film offers probably the best of the year. But its selling point is the one thing you can’t double, or replace with digital effects. 

For the first time in ages, we’re only here for the stars.

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